French minister's tilt at English sounds lost

Central Station | 6 Aug 2019

France's culture minister, Franck Riester, is urging people to cut down on an increasing use of English in yet another effort to protect the French language. But President Emmanuel Macron is undercutting the effort because he often slips English idioms into his speech.

Riester made his plea to stick to French in a Twitter post marking the 25th anniversary of a law governing the use of French on television and radio.

But critics rounded on his patriotic views immediately yesterday, pointing out Macron regularly uses "start-up nation" to promote French innovation and technology. Others cite Macron having referred to democracy as being a "bottom-up" system.

Cinema executive Christophe Courtois points out that top French companies regularly use English slogans rather than French, such as Renault's ads titled "Never Too Much" and Air France's "France Is In The Air" posters.

The 1994 Toubon Law made the use of French mandatory in all TV broadcasts, meaning all foreign language programs are dubbed while radio stations must play at least 40 percent of French music for most of the day.

In 2006, France's President Jacques Chirac walked out of a European Union summit briefly as a form of protest when the French head of the EU's industry lobby addressed leaders of the bloc in English.

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